Col Worden has passed away

Sad news coming from NASA this morning.

Col Alfred “Al” Worden has passed away at the age of 88. Colonel Worden joined the US Air Force in 1955 after graduating from the US Military Academy (Army Academy) in Westpoint New York. He began his pilot training at the Moore Air Force Base, Texas then went on to the Randolph Air Force Base to become an instructor. He served as a pilot with the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland until 1965. He then went onto the Aerospace Research Pilots School.

In 1966 Colonel was accepted into the Apollo Program. He served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 9, flight and as backup Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 12 flight. Col Worden served as Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 15 flight which flew from July 26 to August 7, 1971. Apollo 15 was the fourth crewed lunar landing mission and the first to visit and explore the Moon’s Hadley Rilley and Montes Apenninus.

The Apollo 15’s achievements include the largest payloads placed in Earth and Lunar orbit at the same time. at that time, the first scientific instrument module bay flown and operated on an Apollo spacecraft, the longest lunar surface stay at that time remaining on ground for 66 hours and 54 minutes.

In 1971 Colonel Worden was awarded NASA Distinguished Service Medal. In total through out his career he racked up more then 4,000 flight hours, 2,500 of it was jet time. 295 hours was piloting the Apollo 15.

Nasa put out an official press release

“NASA sends its condolences to the family and loved ones of Apollo astronaut Al Worden, an astronaut whose achievements in space and on Earth will not be forgotten.

“A Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Worden was a test pilot and instructor before joining NASA as an astronaut in 1966. He flew to the Moon as command module pilot aboard Apollo 15. During this time he earned a world record as “most isolated human being" while his crew mates roamed the lunar surface, and he was 2,235 miles away from anyone else.

“Later in his career, Worden became Senior Aerospace Scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. His multiple appearances on the children’s show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood surely fueled the desire of many children to pursue careers along the lines of his and become future exploration leaders.

“Of his mission Worden said, ‘Now I know why I’m here. Not for a closer look at the Moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.’

“We remember this pioneer whose work expanded our horizons.”

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That’s sad. As important as the command module pilot is, that job would kill me. Imagine being that close, but still so far. I mean lunar orbit is a heck of a lot closer than most of us will ever get, but those crucial last 60 or so miles down to the surface must have felt so far looking down on it. Huge respect to all the people who worked on that program, hopefully the plans hold and we’re back this decade.

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